How To Test Well Water

This article is about how to get your private well tested and learn what contaminants could possibly be in your well water.

Well water is defined as snow or rain that becomes groundwater and is filtered through the ground. The water then dissolves materials that exist on or in the ground and it eventually contaminates the water. In many states, it is not a requirement to have your well water tested. It is left totally up to the homeowner, but most mortgage lenders require the potential homeowner to have the well tested before even purchasing the property. However, many local health departments require well-water testing before a new well is put into service, but there is no regulations governing water quality in private wells.

Well water sometimes can possibly contain contaminants that are either man-made or natural. Some contaminants in drinking water have been linked to cancer and toxicity, which poses a risk to human health. A man-made contaminants ranges in a wide variety of chemicals such as synthetic organic compounds, heavy metals like lead and cadmium or salt and brine which are used to salt the roads. Industrial activities, improper waste disposal and fuel spills have a great effect on the ground and introduce hazardous substances into the ground. Even a homeowner themselves can effect their water supply without knowing it. Unknowingly a homeowner who introduces fertilizers and pesticides, fuel for lawn equipment and disposing household chemicals can contaminate their own water.

Many natural contaminants such as calcium, magnesium and fluoride just occur in water naturally. As many of 50 minerals may occur in water but these generally do not cause health problems because of the scant amount existing in the water. Most of the natural contaminants cause the water to taste, smell or cause the water to be hard.

A homeowner who wishes to have their private well tested may contact either their local or State department of public health or a private laboratory that is certified to perform drinking water analyses. It is recommended that the homeowner choose an EPA or State certified laboratory. Once you contact the laboratory, follow the instructions and use only sterile containers provided by the lab. Be sure not to rinse the container before you use it because in doing so you may end up with an inaccurate result. The cost of the test depends on the laboratory you choose for the test.

If you wish to test for pesticides it can be more expensive. First before you have your well tested for pesticides, contact your state or local health department to determine if there is contamination problems in your area regarding pesticides. Testing for pesticides is more complex because it requires more specialized laboratory equipment and training. The cost for a single water sample for one or two pesticides ranges from $100 to $150.

If you receive a result that determines that your water is contaminated, the presence of a contaminant is not always an indication of a health hazard. If it is found that the well is contaminated with levels that might have significant health effects, the well should not be used and other alternative methods are recommended. There are five basic alternatives for a homeowner to consider such as, install a new well, connect with a public system if you are in an allowable area, use bottled water, install filters or the most drastic approach would be to move to a different area.

It is recommended for you and your families personal safety to test your private well once each year for germs and once every two to three years for harmful chemicals. Of course you should have your well tested if there is known problems with the well water in your area, have experienced problems near your well such as flooding or you replace or repair any part of your well. It is completely your responsibility to keep your family safe from contaminants and should test your well for your own peace of mind.

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